HARBEL, MARGIBI COUNTY – Margibi County’s Legislative Caucus Chairperson, Representative Tibelrosa Summoh Tarponweh has called on all Liberians appointed to top managerial positions at various concessions across Liberia to avoid oppressing their own compatriots.
Representative Tarponweh said concession agreements provide that concessionaires are required to hire Liberians to top managerial positions to protect the interest of Liberians and the companies, but according to him, these Liberian mangers, in collaboration with some powerful government officials, have turned out to be the ones “stepping on their own ordinary Liberians” to impress their bosses.
The Margibi County District #1 lawmaker made these remarks recently when he served as keynote speaker during the induction ceremony of the newly elected officials of the Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia (FAWUL) in Harbel.
“Section 11 of the Firestone Concession Agreement with the Government of Liberia (GOL) like many other Concession Agreements across the Country provides for Liberians to be considered for senior managerial positions,” he said.
“While it was the vision of the crafters of the Firestone Concession Agreement with GOL for Liberians who find themselves in top Management positions to be balanced to avoid bad labor practices, some have sadly, and I say sadly, turned out to be the oppressors of their own people more than their bosses,” Representative Tarponweh explained.
He continued: “Our investment partners hire our own brothers and sisters in top Management positions who act like UNCLE TOM – which means the enemy within! They rather engage in cruel treatment of their fellow workers, rather than being symbols of fair play in a win-win situation. If you cannot do anything to help protect your own people, then don’t harm them. Don’t be wicked operators.”
Representative Tarponweh has been a lead advocate for workers’ rights and a staunch critic against concession companies’ bad labor practices. On June 10, 2021, the Lawmaker proffered a bill seeking to amend some sections of the Decent Work Act of Liberia to require concessionaires pay direct retirement benefits to their workers during retirement.
“We in concert with workers’ Unions on the various concessions across Liberia initiated and vigorously supported an amendment to the Decent Work Act of 2016 to include and improve on provisions that support labor dignity in retirement and on active duty. That Amendment was unanimously passed by the Honorable House of Representatives on December 16, 2021 and forwarded to the Liberian Senate where it is currently being considered for concurrence,” he told the audience.
“Mr. Chairman, and distinguished Workers, I’m pleased to report that we are exerting every effort to liaise with our Colleagues in the Senate to have that amendment to the Decent Work Act passed in the interest of the workforce across Liberia.”
Speaking further, he admonished the newly elected officials of FAWUL to continue to advocate for the virtues that workers care about including decent wages, job security and safe working environment among others.
Mr. Rodennick M. Bongorlee, Chairman of FAWUL who retained his post, vowed to consistently work in the interest of the workers of Firestone.
Mr. Bongorlee used the occasion to appreciate Representative Tarponweh for his persistent stance against Firestone Management’s bad labor practices.